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January 6, 2016 No comments

My top rides of 2015

Correspondence Friends Bicycles Monthly highlights Travel & Adventure Cycling Urban Cycling Stories
By Juliet Elliott
My top rides of 2015
Like many people, at this time of year I find myself reflecting on what’s gone before, looking back over the past twelve months and reflecting on the moments I’ve particularly enjoyed. As I’m one hell of a lucky lady, there have been a whole load of fun times in 2015, so in no particular order, here are my rides of the year. Red Hook Crit, London Signing up to race the London leg of the world’s toughest fixed gear crit was one of the best things I did in 2015, though in retrospect it would have been better to give myself more than four weeks to train for it. The race itself took place on Greenwich Peninsular and drew huge crowds of supporters, the best international fixed gear riders and a new gang of British racers, who like me decided to give it a go. The race was incredibly tough whilst also being some of the best fun I’ve ever had and I spent much of the race smiling as I fought hard to keep pedalling through the exceptionally technical course. As I crossed the line I raised my fist in triumph, not because I’d won, simply because as a newbie racer I felt proud to have even finished! Read more here. Eroica Britannia Honesty, I’ve never been much of a fan of dressing up – I’m normally the one who gets collared at Halloween and daubed with fake blood as I’ve not made an effort – but Eroica is the one time I’ll get involved with a theme. The original Eroica in Tuscany will always be the best in my mind (no brainer as it’s in Italy!) but the UK version is still pretty fab with a carnival atmosphere and an outstanding route that connects the gravel roads of the Peak District. Check out my write up and gallery. Peaty’s Steel City Downhill Back in May, I entered Steve Peat’s Steel City DH, my first Downhill Mountain Bike race. It was great first taste of racing as the track (at Grenoside, Sheffield) is fast, smooth and flowing rather than full-on steep, plus the organisers had done such an incredible job of promoting the event to women that we had our own categories. I’ll never forget lining up with the 70 other women as a bloke asked his mate  ‘where on earth all these lasses have come from!’ Super fun with a great atmosphere, fingers crossed I get to go again this year. Lugano and Como Lakes The year before last, I was living on Lake Como whilst I worked nearby, and wow, what a place! I ended up moving back to the UK, but by some small twist of fate wound up being sponsored by Assos of Switzerland, whose headquarters are on the adjacent Lake Lugano. Two of my favourite rides this year took place on a single visit to Assos - the first circumnavigating Lake Como and Lake Lugano with a group of employees, friends and visitors, and the second, a solo pre-dawn jaunt up Monte Bre for a sunrise view of Lugano. Incredible. The Track, Portreath I’ve wanted a jump bike for quite a while now, and this year I finally caved in and bought one. I really could have done with buying it whilst there was still the chance of riding trails rather than just as everything closes down for winter, but not to worry! My first (and so far only!) ride on the new bike was at The Track in Portreath, where I tried to pack in enough airtime to see me through to next year, when I’m hoping the rain might eventually stop. The Granite Way Earlier this year, I caught a terrible bout of flu, which saw me 100% bed ridden for three weeks. Oh my goodness, it was beyond awful! When I was just about able to get to my feet, my husband took me on some flat, traffic free rides to ease me back into cycling, one of which took place on the Granite Way from Oakhampton. I’ve never felt so delighted to be back on a bike with the sun on my face. Jersey Another great ride was around the island of Jersey, which wound up fairly hilly with visits to each delightful bay. The island has it’s own microclimate, gorgeous beaches and relatively quiet roads so it’s ideal for cycling, though as it’s so small, I wonder whether you’d run out of new routes rather quickly were you to stay for any great length of time. New bike day at Scadson A new bike day is always a good day, but my first ride on the new Marin Attack Trail 9 was particularly fun. I’ve recently got involved with TQ3 Riders, and together we’re maintaining and developing the trails down in Scadson Woods, Paignton, which just so happens to be one of my favourite places to ride. Whilst the runs are quite short, having your own little playground and a new toy to show your friends makes for a blinding day. Track League Who’d have though that riding around in circles could be so much fun? 2015 was the year that I stepped up my training, so I decided to give track racing a go to see how I’d fare. The first session is memorable for how hard I found it, but determined to do better, I changed my gearing, learned some tactics and went back to Newport for another go. The unique combination of physical and mental exertion make me long for more races! So that was 2015 and it was a banger. I’ll especially remember it as the year that I started racing and finally gave training a chance, but it was also a year that saw me somewhat conflicted over how to spend my time – all that track cycling didn’t half cut into my mountain bike riding! So I’m somewhat delighted to commence 2016 without having to give up any bad habits or undertake any new regimes – my only resolution is one that I always have, simply to ride more. I think I’ll have to give up sleeping!